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Texas screens jurors for trial of man charged with killing prosecutors

By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas court on Friday began screening thousands of potential jurors to serve in the October trial of a case that dominated headlines last year, when a man was accused of shooting dead three people, including two prosecutors.

Nearly 3,000 people have been summoned to come to the Rockwall County court for the jury panel in the trial of Eric Williams, a former Kaufman County justice of the peace and attorney accused of murdering District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife, Cynthia, and Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, according to Rockwall County officials.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Eric Williams, 46. Williams' wife, Kim, was also charged with capital murder, but will be tried separately.

Court officials are planning to have a final jury panel selected by August 15 and start the trial on October 20.

McLelland and Hasse had prosecuted Eric Williams for the theft of office computer monitors, which cost him his job and law license.

Hasse was gunned down outside the Kaufman County Courthouse on January 31, 2013. The McLellands were killed inside their home on March 30, 2013.

The Public Defender's Office, was granted a change of venue to Rockwall County, in suburban Dallas, because of extensive media coverage of the shooting deaths in Kaufman County, about 30 miles southeast of Rockwall.

Special prosecutors from Dallas have been appointed for the case and a Dallas County judge has been appointed to preside over the case.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz)

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